To illustrate how ethics are getting short-shrift in the tech world, Horowitz asked attendees whether they prefer the iPhone or Android. (When the majority voted for the iPhone, he joked that they were “suckers” who just chose the prettier device.) [...] Finally, Horowitz wanted to know whether audience members would use the ideas proposed by John Stuart Mill or by Immanuel Kant to make that decision. Not surprisingly, barely anyone knew what he was talking about.
“That’s a terrifying result,” Horowitz said. “We have stronger opinions about our handheld devices than about the moral framework we should use to guide our decisions.”
The obvious response is that technology-makers aren’t supposed to think about the morality of their products — they just build stuff and let other people worry about the ethics. But Horowitz pointed to the Manhattan Project, where physicists developed the nuclear bomb, as an obvious example where technologists should have thought carefully about the moral dimensions of their work. To put it another way, he argued that technology makers should be thinking as much about their “moral operating system” as their mobile operating system.